An introduction to communication in autism: Current findings and future directions.

Joanne Arciuli, Jon Brock

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Ever since Leo Kanner’s original description of autism in 1943, impaired communication has been considered one of its central features. Autism has been defined and diagnosed in terms of communication impairment, co-occurring with qualitative abnormalities of social interaction and restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests. With an estimated prevalence of 1 in 88 (Baio 2012), it represents one of the more common disorders associated with communication impairment. The emphasis on different aspects of communication in autism has shifted considerably over the years. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, severe disorder of speech and language was considered necessary for a diagnosis of autism (e.g. Creak 1964) with some researchers implicating language impairment as its primary cause (e.g. Churchill 1972; Rutter & Bartak 1971). Although impaired communication remains one of the core criteria for a diagnosis of autism, current diagnostic guidelines, such as the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), emphasise nonverbal communication and pragmatic conversational deficits, whilst allowing for the full range of individual variation in linguistic competence. Even high-functioning individuals with age- appropriate language skills struggle in conversational settings and may have difficulty with turn-taking and knowing how much information to provide.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunication in autism
EditorsJoanne Arciuli, Jon Brock
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9789027270320
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

Name Trends in Language Acquisition Research
Publisher John Benjamins Publishing Company
ISSN (Print)1569-0644


  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Communication


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